Dual Setbacks for MO Pro-Lifers

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by Kristine Christlieb  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 3, 2020   

Counter-punches planned

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Missouri pro-lifers are disappointed by two recent decisions that broaden access to abortion but are regrouping to do battle.

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Gov. Mike Parson

(Photo: Carolina Hidalgo/St. Louis Public Radio)

On Monday, Republican governor Mike Parson announced he will not appeal a state administrative court's decision that allowed for the state's sole abortuary to be licensed. And in a 6–1 decision on Tuesday, the state Supreme Court struck down a Missouri amendment designed to prevent funding for abortion facilities.

Addressing the Supreme Court decision specifically, Samuel H. Lee, a Catholic pro-life activist and lobbyist in Missouri, expressed his frustration.

Lee called the decision "an outrageous, despicable ruling of an unelected group of state Supreme Court judges to undo decades of pro-life policies that restrict funding for abortion."

The ruling was in response to a Planned Parenthood (PP)-initiated lawsuit. PP challenged the amendment that excluded abortion clinics from receiving Medicaid funding. The court sided with PP. It ruled that since the amendment was attached to an appropriations bill, it had to be struck down because legislation cannot address more than one subject. In this particular case, the court found the legislation was addressing both the funding for social services and also the exclusion of Medicaid funds for abortion. 

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Lee detailed the state's long battle to prohibit the use of public funds for abortion.

He explained to Church Militant, "In Missouri, no public hospitals and no public employees, such as doctors and nurses employed by the state for public health programs, are allowed to be involved in any way with the abortion industry."

Ultimately, the abortion battle is a spiritual one, not a legal one.
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Deacon Tyler McClay

Missouri's Supreme Court is operated under a "nonpartisan court plan." When there's an opening in the court, a panel of lawyers puts forward a slate of nominees. The governor is allowed to select only from the panel's nominees, who are often liberal.

Lee said Gov. Parson's unwillingness to appeal the state administrative court's decision was "a judgment call," and pointed out that the governor has access to lawyers deeply committed to the pro-life cause.

"They must have weighed the likelihood of overturning the administrative's court's decision and decided it was too risky," said Lee.

Pursuing that appeal isn't a high priority because virtually no abortions are being performed at PP's abortuary in St. Louis. In October, the abortion giant built a regional hub across the river in Illinois where the legislative environment is friendlier to abortionists.

Deacon Tyler McClay, executive director and general counsel for the Missouri Catholic Conference, hasn't discussed the decisions with the Missouri bishops, but did share his perspective with Church Militant:

In the pro-life movement, there are victories and setbacks. As a state Catholic conference, we are in this for the long haul and will continue to fight for life from conception to natural death. Ultimately, the abortion battle is a spiritual one, not a legal one. These legal setbacks are part of the ongoing spiritual battle to defend life.

Wasting no time, Sen. Bill Eigel, a Missouri Republican, announced on Thursday he will be filing in the next session a constitutional amendment that would prevent the use of state money to fund PP or any other abortion provider. In his passion for pro-life causes, Eigel used the strongest language to justify his legislative initiative.

He told the Missouri Times, "Planned Parenthood is one of the most aggressive and widespread supporters of the abortion industry in Missouri, and the idea that public money would be going to such an institution is outrageous in my mind and the minds of a lot of my constituents."

If Eigel's legislation is successful, it will be on a statewide ballot, allowing Missourians to put their Supreme Court in its place.

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